Monday, December 3, 2018

Treat the Disease to Please

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP - Speaker, Author, Influencer

With this month being extremely busy due to the continued holiday season, I thought I’d share some strategies that have helped me to conquer the chaos a bit so I can enjoy my time with family and friends more. For me, maintaining healthy personal boundaries can help reduce stress a lot. 

I believe it starts by knowing what you like, need, want, and don’t want, and then making choices which are aligned with those needs and wants. That doesn’t mean you live your life without compromise or flexibility; you just don’t give into the demands and unrealistic expectations of others. Following are some thoughts and actions that lead to healthier boundaries: 
  • Develop a strong sense of personal identity. Realize and take pride in what makes you unique.
  • Respect yourself. Feel an inner confidence and assurance, independent of praise from others.
  • Be respectful of others. Look for positive and honorable qualities in others.
  • Forgive. Forgive others and yourself. Move on from past mistakes and difficult situations.
  • Accept accountability. When things go wrong, be accountable for your mistakes without pointing fingers at others.
  • Teach your lips to say no.  Understand that you are free to say yes or no. And, when appropriate, you should do so without feelings of guilt, anger or fear.
  • Expect mutual benefit in relationships. Whether at work or at home, healthy relationships should provide value and benefit for both parties. It likely won’t be the same for each of you, but it should be a shared venture.
  • Welcome feedback. Some feedback is positive, and some is constructive. Understand the intent of the other person, and try to look past how it was delivered. Choose to learn and grow from feedback you receive.  
  • Refuse to take on the problems of others. It is admirable to help others through difficult situations; however, there is a big difference between offering assistance and accepting another person’s problem as your own.
  • Celebrate successes. Celebrate personal accomplishments by treating yourself to a movie, taking a vacation day to do what you want, indulging in a small treat, etc. Additionally, get in the habit of noticing and applauding the success of others. By recognizing another person’s achievements, you are demonstrating value and appreciation for their effort and results. 
I realize that treating the disease to please and making brave choices in the process isn’t easy. Putting your needs first and teaching others how to treat us can be very difficult. Actually admitting how you feel to yourself may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. Yet I have found that after feeling a little guilty at first, you likely will have less chaos in your life—eventually feeling and being much happier, more liberated, less stressed, and a lot stronger. You will be a better you.

It's About Progress Not Perfection

Blog by Tracy Butz, CSP - Speaker, Author, Influencer

Often times, people avoid making changes in their life because they just don’t know what steps to take. The process can seem overwhelming; they may feel they don’t have the time or resources to get “there.” And if where to start is unclear, either excuses are made or people become stuck and unable to take even one step forward. These realities occur when unrealistic expectations are set and we believe that if we’re not perfect in our pursuit; we’re a failure. The truth is, because we are human, we are unable to attain perfection. Being imperfect is what makes each of us unique. And that’s a good thing.

Perfection should never be the goal because the outcome will almost always be failure. This doesn’t mean we don’t set the bar high, because we absolutely should. But we need to focus on progress, not perfection; target the process we are experiencing now and the steps we are taking, not on the outcome.

So where should you start? In order to make a lasting change, the change itself needs to be meaningful to you. It can’t feel imposed upon you, rather than chosen by you. For example, let’s say you want to spend more time reading interesting and insightful books. In order to carve out the necessary time in your schedule, you choose to reduce your Facebook interaction time by two hours per week. If someone told you that you had to make that change, you probably wouldn’t take kindly to that demand. Furthermore, if someone took it upon themselves to limit your Facebook involvement two hours per week in some way, you would likely loathe it more…primarily because you just encountered a change being done to you. No one likes change forced on them. No one.

In addition to the change being meaningful to you, it also has to be something that you believe in, that you value, that you want to get behind and commit to. You have to know the work ahead of you will be worth it. So what habit or behavior are you wanting to change in your life and why do you want to do it?

Do you want to go back to school and earn a diploma or degree?

Do you want to feel happier?

Do you want a job you enjoy going to?

Do you want to make more money?

Do you want to lose weight?

Do you want to find love?

Do you want to stop smoking?

Do you want to be more confident?

Do you want to say “no” more often?

Do you want to find your passion?

Do you want to laugh more?

Do you want to be a better spouse?

You are one decision away from totally transforming your life. Imagine that!?! And just know, I am with you on this journey, and I am a work in progress, too! I continue to make changes in my life so I keep growing and propelling myself forward in a positive directionbecoming better and better. In fact, the question I ask myself before deciding to alter a habit or behavior is, “Will this one choice to change, help me get one step closer to becoming my greatest self?” If the answer is, “Yes,” I know I am on the right track.

Aim for awesomeness. Strive for spectacular. Just allow wiggle room for slips and trips.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Build Unstoppable Self-Confidence

Blog from Tracy Butz, speaker, author, influencer

As a professional speaker, I am asked often how I am able to get up on stage, in front of hundreds of people, and speak. One of the greatest pieces of advice I was given early on in my career was that no one in the audience is there for you specifically…they are present to hear your message. And for me, that was enough to help me build my self-confidence and overcome any anxiety of standing up and addressing an audience. By shifting my mental focus away from me and to my message instead, I was able to concentrate more intently on confidently delivering a high-quality, results-focused message in a way that hopefully will resonate strongly and influence behavior change.
I’ve come to realize over the years, that self-confidence is really more of a skill than a trait. And as I age, I seem to acquire more of it, worrying less about what others think of me and focus more on how I can be the best version of “me”. After all, no one is you, but you. So why try to portray someone else? They are already taken, and they certainly aren’t you.

As with any skill, if you don’t exercise that muscle, it will soon become a floppy piece of flesh. So how do I continue to build my self-confidence? Here are 12 simple (not always easy) strategies I use to continuously strive to grow, develop and nurture my self-confidence muscle: 
  1. Love who you are. Start each day by looking in the mirror and loving who you see. Self-confidence starts by having a positive perception of yourself.
  2. Insist on positive self-talk. Instead of telling yourself what you did wrong or what needs to change, focus on what you did right. The voices inside your head need to be positive instead.
  3. Forget perfect. Understand that no one is perfect and making mistakes is how you learn.
  4. Start small. Set one or two small goals for yourself every day and every week. As you accomplish them, enjoy that warm, happy feeling that fills your soul.
  5. Journal accomplishments. By making note of positive goals you’ve successfully attained, you have a tool to help enhance your self-confidence if it is ever shaken. Reflect on your achievements often.
  6. Enjoy the feeling of success. Far too often we are more concerned with moving onto the next goal or thing that we don’t celebrate success we just attained. Take a moment and “smell the roses.” It feels amazing!
  7. Give the gift of gratitude. Tell someone how grateful you are to know them. Express how you truly appreciate him/her. Helping others feel special helps us feel good about ourselves.
  8. Dress sharp. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to dress nicely. Wear pressed clothing that fits you well and accessorize your outfit it in a way that emphasizes your assets in a classy manner.
  9. Stand tall. Those who stand with slumped shoulders and walk with lethargic movements display a lack of self-confidence. Make a positive impression by standing up straight, keeping your head up and making natural eye contact.
  10. Be healthy. By eating well, maintaining a regular fitness routine and getting adequate sleep, you are more inclined to feel a strong level of confidence because you know you are taking care of yourself personally.
  11. Compliment someone. When you genuinely offer a compliment to another person, you see him/her light up. That light reflects back to you and feels great.
  12. Prepare. The best strategy I know to demonstrate a high level of self-confidence is to be prepared. Preparation for a task, meeting, conversation, etc. helps you to feel strong and positioned for success.
By demonstrating and continually striving to enhance your level of self-confidence, you can become unstoppable in what you can achieve! There is nothing more attractive than stunning self-confidence. 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Are You Merely Interested or Captivatingly Committed?

Blog from Tracy Butz, CSP

Are you merely interested in achieving your goals, or are you truly committed to making them happen?   The difference between interest and commitment lies in the definitions.

If you are interested in exercising more, you may choose to do it, or you may not. The choice is dependent on whether it is convenient, the timing is right, or if you have the internal motivation to do it.

Commitment is an absolute. You are either committed to something or not. You can’t be partially committed any more than you can be partially pregnant…it’s not possible. When you are ready, select one or two goals you have, write them down, and commit to making them happen. When you do, you can move on to another goal or two.

Goal setting is a powerful process. It helps you choose where you want to go and offers a plan to help you get there. By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts. You'll also spot the distractions that may otherwise lure you off course.
More than this, properly set goals can be incredibly motivating. As you get into the habit of setting and achieving goals, you'll find your self-confidence builds fast.

Start by thinking about what you really want to achieve in your life. As you continue to motivate yourself and focus on accomplishing each specific goal, you’ll turn your vision of the future into your reality.

There are a number of famous acronyms to help you with goal setting, but most are missing key components. An acronym I developed, P.R.O.D.U.C.T.I.V.E., is far more comprehensive and includes:

P - pride-worthy
R - results-focused
O - optimistic
D - defined
U - useful
C - challenging
T - time-sensitive
I  - inspiring
V - viable
E - engaging 

As you can see, PRODUCTIVE Goals are results focused, useful, and challenging. It is easy to set a goal you can attain without much effort, but defining goals that stretch you encourages greater meaning and a higher degree of pride when you accomplish them. Each goal should trigger a sense of emotion that compels you to start and sustain your motivation. If you don't feel an emotional connection to your goal, the chances of you committing to it and achieving it, significantly decreases.
If you want to create the life you want to live, it starts with committing to both setting and following through on PRODUCTIVE Goals. Write your goals down and place them in a location where they will be visible to you each and every day. This way, as you make decisions and choose where to spend your time, you will better ensure your decisions are aligned with your goals and what matters most to you. You’ll be amazed, not only at the number of goals you will attain, but also the degree of success you will achieve from accomplishing what you set out to do.

What is the PRODUCTIVE Goal you are working on? I'd love to know!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Being Your Best, Stunning Self

Blog by Tracy Butz

You can’t touch it, but you sure can feel it. It doesn’t have a color or shape, but it can alter how others perceive you. It’s not supposed to add to your physical beauty, but I’m certain it does. What am I referring to? Self-confidence.

Even though the physical qualities of external beauty tend to be important to many of us—like our glowing skin tone, muscular definition, firm and smooth skin, radiant hair, etc.— it’s important to remember that they do have somewhat of an expiration date. The heart of self-confidence is far more about being comfortable with who you are. These tips will not only help enhance your level of self-confidence, but they will also help you to look and be your best you. 
  1. Love and believe in yourself. Love all that you are—the good, bad and the ugly. None of your colleagues, friends or family members are perfect. None of them. So stop beating yourself up and looking for ways to “fix” you. Yes, self-improvement is important; but it’s that self-loathing inner voice that says you aren’t good enough that needs to be squelched. Believe in who you are, focus on your amazing qualities and own your short-comings. If you feel it would benefit you to enhance or improve a certain aspect, consider taking steps to do that. Choosing to build inner-strength through positive self-talk and prevent permitting the pessimism is sure to help loving who you see in the mirror.
  2. Smile every day…and more often each day. Just like wearing a pair of stiletto heels or an Armani suit may capture another person’s attention, sporting a genuine smile is not only free, but easy to do. If you tend to walk around looking solemn, turn that frown upside down. Rather than portray you’re closed off or disinterested, show off those pearly whites and accentuate your facial features and give them the opportunity to shine. Plus, frowning creates wrinkles—and none of us need more of them!
  3. Be prepared. I feel far more confident when I am prepared versus anxious and uncertain when I’m not. Whether it is regarding a professional task or a personal one, being well prepared is never a bad choice. Learn everything you can about the subject matter for the task at-hand. Practice the steps to hone your skill and soon your competency will grow. Preparation allows you to move through unforeseen difficulties far easier and with more success. As my husband frequently says, “Preparation is where planning meets opportunity.” How true that statement is.
  4. Speak clearly and concisely. Communicate your words succinctly and in a way in which is easily understood. Avoid long drawn-out explanations as they tend to confuse listeners. Less words are usually better than more, as long as it doesn’t change the meaning. Choose words using the right context and meaning and do your best to stay clear of “ums” and “ahs,” which are prime filler words that interrupt flow. Instead, speak with a steady, rhythmic tone, using pauses to emphasize key points. Help others want to listen to you over giving them a reason not to.
  5. Take good physical care of yourself. When you are aware of your body's needs and make time to meet those needs, feelings of happiness and strong self-confidence often follow. When you're feeling run down or stressed, relax by engaging in a favorite hobby or pastime. Eat foods that nourish your body and drink plenty of water to maintain hydration. Get the shut-eye you deserve to keep your mind sharp and your body full of energy. Find an exercise you love to maintain a healthy heart and physique. Treat your body with the respect it deserves for a higher-performing and more self-confident you.
  6. Display a straight, beautiful posture. Whether you are standing or sitting, improving your posture can make a significant difference in your appearance and level of confidence. If you tend to hunch a little bit when standing, make a conscious effort to pull your shoulders back, allow your chest to slightly protrude and straighten your back. When standing in place, hold a stance with both feet planted firmly on the floor, versus popping one of your hips and having your weight distributed disproportionately. And rather than leaning on a wall or a chair, standing straight communicates poise. When seated, be sure to have your buttocks pushed back into the chair without slouching. Being careful not to lean forward is also helpful to maintain proper spine alignment. Think upright and elegant over slouchy and sloppy.
  7. Dress for success. Select clothing and accessories that fit you well—meaning they suit your industry, lifestyle and situation. Understand what the appropriate attire is for a particular event or gathering and then select items that correspond. Underdressing or overdressing can alter someone’s first impression of you and it can certainly leave you feeling uncomfortable and awkward, which definitely doesn’t lend itself to confidence. Wear clothes that are the correct size and fit nicely—not too tight or too loose. Invest in using a seamstress if you’ve altered your weight or are height-challenged and need your pants shortened. When it doubt, press it!—as ironed clothes appear newer, nicer and crisper—leading to a more polished look. 
When it comes to looking your best, comedian Billy Crystal said it best back in his Saturday Night Live days with, “You look mahvelous!” When it comes to being your best, stunning self-confidence is the answer I tout.